Hartford doctor and public health expert, Dr. Gary Rhule, has been named administrator of the newly created Hartford Flood Compensation Program.
The program was created as part of the recently passed 2024-2025 biennial state budget as a means of assisting residents who have experienced damage due to flooding. Hartford, due to its position along the Connecticut River, has large areas of the city within federally designated flood zones.
“This state fund we are creating is going to provide financial assistance directly to property owners in Hartford who have experienced frequent flooding that has caused significant damage to their homes and businesses,” said Gov. Ned Lamont in a statement. “These flooding issues have been impacting residents in Hartford for far too long, and action addressing this problem is long overdue.”
Residents in these areas have witnessed the potential damages that can be caused by increasing flood events in the last few weeks, as the state experienced a very wet July. Among the most affected areas of the city is the North End, a neighborhood Dr. Rhule is very familiar with having moved to the area after leaving Jamaica at the age of 14.
Dr. Rhule is a former Emergency Room physician at St. Francis Hospital, medical director at Charter Oak Health Center, and health and human services director for the city of Hartford.
“Dr. Rhule has spent his whole life working to improve the lives of others, and his dedication to Hartford is clear. I look forward to collaborating with him on this initiative,” said Comptroller Sean Scanlon when announcing the appointment. “Work is already underway to get this program up and running to provide much-needed relief to Hartford residents adversely impacted by floods.”
According to researchers, flooding is primed to become an increasing issue for many of Connecticut’s residents. Between major rivers – including the Connecticut and Thames Rivers – and the major cities along Long Island Sound, the majority of the state’s residents live in potential flood zones. Increasingly common heavy rain events and storm surges, combined with densely populated areas with impervious surface cover, are likely to cause more and larger flooding.
Recent research indicates that flood events that previously happened once every century could now happen once a decade or more frequently.
The Hartford Flood Compensation Program is not yet dispensing any of its $5 million in pilot funding, but state leaders say they hope to have things running soon. The initial phases will include an application process for those residents who have experienced flood damage. Residents who wish to receive alerts going forward can sign up online here.